Dorthy Sayers Essay

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Let the Church see to it that the workers are Christian people and do their work well, as to God: then all the work will be Christian work…As Jacques Maritain says: ‘If you want to produce Christian work, be a Christian, and try to make a work of beauty into which you have put your heart; do not adopt a Christian pose.’ (140; Maritain quote from Art and Scholasticism with Other Essays, Ch. 2)The worst religious films I ever saw were produced by a company which chose its staff exclusively for their piety.

Bad photography, bad acting, and bad dialogue produced a result so grotesquely irreverent that the pictures could not have been shown in churches without bringing Christianity into contempt. The catch in it, which nowadays the world has largely forgotten, is that the second commandment [‘Love your neighbour’] depends upon the first [‘Love God’], and that without the first, it is a delusion and a snare.

Yet in Her own buildings, in Her own ecclesiastical art and music, in Her hymns and prayers, in Her sermons and in Her little books of devotion, the Church will tolerate, or permit a pious intention to excuse work so ugly, so pretentious, so tawdry and twaddling, so insincere and insipid, so as to shock and horrify any decent draftsman. Simply because She has lost all sense of the fact that the living and eternal truth is expressed in work only so far as that work is true in itself, to itself, to the standards of its own technique.

She has forgotten that the secular vocation is sacred.

A significant source of this currency was the famous essay written by Dorothy Sayers, "The Lost Tools of Learning". Sayers reminded us that children learn today in the same ways they've always learned; and that it isn't a bad idea to look to our educational forefathers for suggestions about how best to facilitate that learning.

She suggested that a "classical" education had and has three parts which correspond to three stages of learning.

Forgotten that a building must be good architecture before it can be a good church; that a painting must be well painted before it can be a good sacred picture; that work must be good work before it can call itself God’s work.

(139-140)The Apostles complained rightly when they said it was not meet they should leave the word of God and serve tables; their vocation was to preach the word.

During this stage, a sharpened mind will require some freedom to concentrate on the subject or subjects which resonate the loudest.

"The doors of the storehouse of knowledge should now be thrown open for them to browse about as they will.


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